Physical conditioning and strength training for golf will increase the distance of your shots, reduce your score, and eliminate the nagging injuries associated with playing “too much” golf. In the era of Tiger Woods, there is no doubt that a golfer is an athlete. It is believed that Tiger makes shots that no one else can because of his physical strength. But while millions upon millions of golfers have emulated Tiger’s clothing and equipment, how many have followed his lead and strengthened their body for golf?
Think for a moment about the money you spend on clubs, memberships, friendly wagers, and golf lessons. Are you getting your money’s worth? The value of your equipment or golf pro is not being questioned, but the value of the operating unit – your body – needs to be evaluated. First rate equipment will always be limited by second rate conditioning.
The good news is that a small investment (less than the cost of your custom driver) can help you identify the weak links in your physical conditioning and will strengthen your body in preparation for the season. You owe it to yourself to get the most out of your efforts and expensive equipment. A good program can add yards to your drive and should increase the effectiveness of both your golf clubs and golf lessons.
Think about this: If you have played golf for 3 years then you have taken at least 3840 explosive swings on the course:
40 wood & long-iron shots per round
2 rounds per week
16 weeks in a season
= 3840 explosive swings!
Big deal, you say? Where’s the problem? The problem is you have taken almost 4000 muscle contractions in one direction only. This may overdevelop some muscles at the expense of others. Imagine doing 4000 contractions with only your right arm – think there might be differences in muscle size and strength between your left and right arms?
Technically, you have overtrained some muscles for three years, while others have been completely neglected. Compounding your physical imperfections are the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle (as is the case for most golfers) and the individual oddities that you may have been born with (flat feet, limb length differences, poor co-ordination, etc.). Without physical conditioning, it’s unlikely that you will be playing at an optimal level. All of these factors contribute to your need for a professional assessment – a small investment in time and money that can make a world of difference in your game. Physical conditioning is no less important than golf lessons.
Step 1 – Get a thorough physical assessment from a qualified professional to identify your muscle weaknesses and flexibility. You may visit a physical therapist, an experienced personal trainer, an athletic therapist, or other movement specialist – ask around for a recommendation. Costs will vary, but the information you will extract from this session will pay for itself at the year-end club championship!
If you need to lose excess body fat, then do it with interval training and nutrition, not with long, slow, boring cardio. That takes too long and does nothing for golf fitness.
It is mandatory that you have an assessment and address any injuries, imbalances, inflexibility, or other concerns before you move on with a strength and conditioning program. The right professional will help you address the cause of injury, rather than just treating the symptoms. Low-back pain is also extremely prevalent in golfers. If you have low-back pain, you must see your doctor and have them refer you to the appropriate professional. Fix your lower back before you start swinging your golf club at speeds of up to 90-100 miles per hour!
You may also wish to discuss pre-game preparation with your movement therapist or Strength and Conditioning Coach. Like sprinting, golf is an explosive sport and demands thorough preparation to prepare their muscles for high-velocity movements. Ask a certified trainer to take you through a warm-up that involves dynamic movements for the upper body and lower body. This is termed “dynamic flexibility” and is designed to increase range of motion and to warm-up the muscles specific to the movement.
Your pre-game preparations should begin immediately following your last round! Take advantage of any opportunity you have to enhance recovery and do some more dynamic flexibility. Does your club have a massage therapist? If so, take advantage! Do you have injuries that require immediate ice and other recovery measures? Take the opportunity to ask for instructions on recovery at your initial assessment.
From the results of your professional assessment, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) will be able to put together a program for you. The program should begin with a restoration of function followed by training to increase strength and eventually will go on to help you develop power.
An area that is going to be a weak spot in most golfers is the strength and endurance of the abdominal and low-back muscles. Some experts suggest that increasing low-back endurance can help reduce back problems. A golfer will also want to build endurance so that they can maintain good posture in their golf stance over an 18-hole match. Endurance in the abs and lower back could have profound effects on your game’s consistency.
Just like your golf lessons, the training program that you need is likely to be very different from the program required by your golf partner, your wife, or the guy you are chasing for the club championship. That is why you need to invest in a strength coach to set you up with a training program.
Priority training areas for both advanced and recreational golfers include the arms, shoulder-complex, lower back, abdominals, and obliques. This doesn’t mean you should grab the local bodybuilder’s routine for arm curls and sit-ups. Your program should be much more targeted than that. Here are some exercises that you should discuss with your strength coach to include in your training program:
12 Best exercises to strengthen the abdominal and lower-back muscles.
2) Side Plank
3) Plank With Arms on Ball
4) Bird Dog
6) Mountain Climber
7) Spiderman Climb
8) Stability Ball Jackknife
9) Waiter’s Bow
10) Medicine Ball Woodchoppers
11) Back Extension
12) Waiter’s Bow
Bonus 13) Standing Pullover
12 Best Exercises that will help you develop total-body strength & mobility:
2) Lateral Step-up
3) Reverse Lunge
4) Romanian Deadlift
6) Split Squat
7) Single-Arm DB Row
8) Wide-Grip Seated Row
9) Standing Cable Chest Press with Rotation
10) One-arm Elevated Push-up
11) Rotator Cuff External Rotation
12) Y’s & T’s
Don’t use all of these exercises in the same session. This is merely a list of exercises that you and your trainer may want to include in your conditioning program.
With the right program, you can become stronger, more flexible, fitter, and have more power than your opposition. A well-conditioned golfer will also have that “psychological advantage” being at the “top” of their game and has a greater chance of setting personal bests. Good luck!
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Mens Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit http://www.TurbulenceTraining.com
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